Guy on the left? MLB Umpire Jim Joyce. Guy on the right? Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga.
Last night, Galarraga had a perfect game going with 2 outs in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Last night, Jim Joyce cost him that perfect game.
My first reaction upon watching the replay of the blown call (the runner was out by at least a step) was contemplate a petition to get Joyce fired and send Armando a floral arrangement. Like most of my initial thoughts, this one was totally and completely wrong.
Yes, Joyce blew the call. And yes, Galarraga was well within the unwritten code to go completely mental at missing his spot in history. But along the way something different happened.
Joyce admitted he was wrong and Galarraga acted like, well, a grown man. He stopped, smiled, then finished the game for the win. And across the land everyone clamored for more instant replay and to fire Jim Joyce and for Uncle Bud to reverse the call and make it RIGHT, for God's sake. And for a few minutes my winter of 2010 flashed before my eyes; day after day of writers and broadcasters going on and on about instant replay and how to make the game perfect and without fault.
Baseball however, unlike any other sport, relies on the human element. The pitcher has to pitch, the hitter has to hit, the fielder has to field, and the umpire has to ump. No time limit, no re-do's, and NO INSTANT REPLAY. (Except in cases involving Home Runs. This makes my head hurt as well, but I can live with it.)
What has amazed me throughout the day has been the grace shown by Galarraga and the sincere regret shown by Joyce. One guy screwed up and the other guy accepted it and moved on; basically, they acted like grown ups and by baseball standards?
They are the exception and not the rule.
I hope the powers that be don't push for more instant replay. I hope Ken Harrellson gets run over by a bus. I hope other players/umpires watch how these two acted and took notes.
But mainly? I hope that instead of the blown call that people will remember how these two very different men handled a terrible situation with grace, dignity, humility, and compassion.
'Cause if more people acted like Jim Joyce and Armando Galarraga, the world would be a MUCH better place.